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'Surrey needs to live within its means': mayor defends plans to halt work on facilities

Last Updated Dec 4, 2018 at 10:46 pm PST

Summary

Surrey's mayor says city needs to learn to live within its means, as he defends plans to halt work on some facilities

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is looking to rein in spending at city hall, defends plans to postpone some projects

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – The mayor of Surrey says postponing work on the Cloverdale ice rink and other facilities is necessary due to rising interest ratings and a sputtering global economy.

Mayor Doug McCallum spoke with reporters on Tuesday morning after having announced his city was carrying a debt of $514-million last month.

The debt load is currently closer to $316-million, and stems from projects approved by the previous council.

McCallum wants to rein in spending at city hall, and is aiming to cut back on previously planned spending on things like community centres, parks, and libraries in a bid to reduce future debt.

He says that’s particularly important with borrowing costs going up.

“We have listed the capital projects that we are going to build over the next five years, and we have listed the capital projects that we need to cut back because we are carrying too much debt.”

McCallum says he feels it’s not appropriate to borrow money to build things like ice rinks and parks.

It’s certainly a change in approach from his predecessor — Linda Hepner — who was willing to borrow if it meant building facilities in anticipation of future demand.

However, McCallum says with borrowing becoming increasingly expensive, that approach isn’t prudent.

“We had a climate in Surrey, the 10th largest city in Canada, where we had to deal with some of the fiscal realities of the world economy and the world interest rates increasing.”

As for a planned property tax increase, McCallum insists this is in line with a campaign promise to tie hikes to the Consumer Price Index.